Farms: Public Footpaths

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 18th September 2018.

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Photo of Madeleine Moon Madeleine Moon Chair, Defence Sub-Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has plans to provide funding from the public purse to provide farmers with payments for fulfilling their legal duties to keep paths on their land clear after the UK leaves the EU.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

In England, the cornerstone of future agriculture policy will be the payment of public money for environmental public goods. The Agriculture Bill includes public access in the list of purposes that the Secretary of State may pay for in the future. Paths that provide access to farmers’ land enable people to access and spend time in the natural environment. Infrastructure is required for recreational walking, cycling and horse-riding and providing access to greenspace and countryside for disabled people. This is important for maintaining and improving physical and mental health and wellbeing and therefore provides public benefits.

There are a number of requirements relating to Public Rights of Way that are currently set out in legislation across the UK. We expect land managers to comply with these regulatory obligations, irrespective of whether financial assistance is to be received or not. As we leave the EU we will be assessing how best to deliver outcomes, including through regulation, enforcement and incentives.

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